Reading Boing Boing earlier in the week, or weeks ago maybe, I came across a brief article about the National Archives. All of those government commissioned movies from bygone eras, Why We Fight, CIA reports on China’s development, documentaries on Patton, are languishing in some musty closet. You can watch previews from them on the National Archive site but the feds suggest you purchase the films on DVD from Amazon.

These are citizen funded movies and the government, not wanting to deal with it, sent them over to be produced and distributed by a private company. In practical terms this makes obvious sense– the market is so small for this sort of nostalgia you may as well let private enterprise take the risk on repackaging and selling the flicks. But we don’t care about what’s practical, right? We care about what’s right. So does Carl Malamud, who bought the DVD set and then posted them all on the Internet Archives. Not all, as many as he’s been able to. He’s encouraging people to watch them so he can use the number of viewers in testimony before Congress to convince people that these films should be widely available to the public.

As I’m isolated from culture that I understand I’ve been digging through them. Tonight I learned about mosquitoes and malaria courtesy of Disney and seven dwarves. Did you know you could run around pouring oil into ponds, drain them, and bury cans? Spray toxins everywhere? That was official government education back in the days before color.

Okay, they’re also on youtube but I prefer the Internet Archives for no particular reason.